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Completed in: 2020 | 60 min.

Section: HIFF Talk Story


Languages: English



Sponsored by:

Hawaii Council for the Humanities

Missed the Conversation? Click HERE to view the discussion via the HIFF Facebook Page.

A reckoning in Hollywood demands for more representation of Asian, Latinx, Indigenous and Black roles on screen and behind the camera in narrative and documentary media. Hawai‘i is touted as a mixed plate of cultures, boasting the highest number of people identifying as “mixed race.” What is the liminal space hapa and multiethnic filmmakers occupy for multiracial characters and stories? How are those identities represented and what is their place in the larger discussion of diversity in media?

Moderator:  Dr. Ethan Caldwell, UHM African American Ethnic Studies Professor

Panelists: Ursula Liang, Director of DOWN A DARK STAIRWELL; Susan Soon He Stanton - Narrative Filmmaker & Playwright; Alika Maikau - Narrative Filmmaker

This event is part of The Way Forward: Conversations about Race and Reckoning in Hawaii Hawaiʻiʻs multicultural identity draws many people to its ethnically diverse shores, but institutional racism and colonialism still live on in the islands. In this unique 3 day event, participate in conversations centered on films challenging and expanding notions of race and equality in Hawaii and beyond. These free panels will reflect on Black Lives Matter and other social justice movements as we push toward a more fair, equitable world.

Film Screening: Watch Ursula Liang's documentary DOWN A DARK STAIRWELL available on demand November 5 -29.

About The Panelists

Ursula Liang

Ursula Liang has worked for The New York Times Op-Docs, T: The New York Times Style Magazine, ESPN The Magazine, Asia Pacific Forum on WBAI, StirTV, the Jax Show, Hyphen magazine, New Yorker Festival, the 2050 Group publicity, and currently freelances as a film and television producer (One October, Third Act, Gloves Off, UFC Countdown, UFC Primetime) and story consultant. She  is a member of Film Fatales, A-DOC, and sits on the executive board of Brown Girls Doc Mafia. Liang grew up in Newton, Mass. and lives in the Bronx, New York. Her debut feature, 9-Man, was broadcast on public television and called “an absorbing documentary” by the New York Times. Her latest film, Down a Dark Stairwell, had its premiere at True/False and was called “a vital picture of a tumultuous time” by Vox.

Alika Maikau

Alika Maikau is a Hawaiian filmmaker based out of Honolulu, Hawai’i. In 2017 he earned a mentorship under Joe Robert Cole (Black Panther), who oversaw the development of what would become his short,Mauka To Makai, which premiered at the end of 2018 and was awarded Best Made In Hawai’i Short at the Hawai’i International Film Festival. Filmmaker Magazine published an article in 2019 entitled Made Visible, where they went on to say about Mauka“Bringing to the screen a world little seen even in Hawaiian films, it wove a universal tale of economic struggle and longtime friendship into a proudly local, indigenous setting.” Alika followed up Maukawith Moloka’i Bound, which premiered at ImagineNative 2019 and won the award for “Best Short Work,” granting them Oscar Consideration for the 2021 Academy Awards, In November he will serve on the Hawai’i International Film Festival Short Film Jury.

Susan Soon He Stanton

Susan Soon He Stanton is a writer for theatre, film, and television from ‘Aiea, Hawai‘i. Susan is a producer and writer on the BAFTA, Golden Globe and Emmy award winning HBO Succession, for which she has also won WGA and Peabody Awards. Upcoming television work includes Amazon’s Modern Love, BBC / Element Pictures’ Conversation with Friendsadapted from the novel by Sally Rooney. In film, she received a Feature Film Development Grant from the Sloan Foundation.Dress won the audience award at the Hawaii International Film Festival. Other films include Bushwick Beats, Same Will, Good House, Dispatched, and the web-series we, are the interns.  Plays include we, the invisibles (Actors Theatre of Louisville Humana Festival, Kailua Onstage Arts), #iambadatthis (Kumu Kahua),Whatever Happened to John Boy Kihano (Kumu Kahua), Moana Jr. (book)for Disney Theatrical Group, Navigator(Honolulu Theatre for Youth), and more. She is a Sundance Theater Lab Resident Playwright and was awarded Leah Ryan FEWW, and the Venturous Playwrights Fellowship at the Lark. BFA: NYU Tisch Dramatic Writing, MFA Yale School of Drama.

Dr. Ethan Caldwell

Ethan Caldwell is an assistant professor of Ethnic Studies at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa. He received his PhD in African American Studies from Northwestern University. His research interests examine how post-WWII Black-Asian relations, militarism, and empire in Okinawa impact Oceanic constructions of race, gender, empire, and Blackness. Beyond his work in Streetnotes, Ethan’s current book project analyzes how dynamic constructions are historically and visually formed,challenged, and impacted through settler-militarism based interactions between Black soldiers and Okinawan civilians. Ethan is also a member of Pau Hana Sessions, a creative collective of scholars that provides a platform for emerging and established Hawai‘i-connected artists who engage with issues related to culture, history, place, and politics.

Online Access

Nov 19th 12:00 PM - Nov 29th 11:00 PM GET ONLINE ACCESS Get Tickets

Film Available

Screening information is not available for this film.

Cast & Crew

Moderator Dr. Ethan Caldwell
Panelist Ursula Liang, Alika Maikau, Susan Soon He Stanton
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